- Associated Press - Sunday, April 19, 2015

NEWELL, S.D. (AP) - A western South Dakota man who got his start as a master of leather crafts selling chaps behind the chutes at rodeos now sells hundreds of pairs around the world.

Jack Gully and his wife, Kelly, have owned and operated K Bar J Leather Co. in Newell for more than a decade. The shop employs about 10 workers, most of whom work on chaps, while some of the others etch designs into leather with lasers.

Jack and Kelly Gully each have their own specialty, the Tri-State Neighbor (https://bit.ly/1JPdKU3) reported. He focuses on gun holsters and knife cases, while she makes purses and bags.

Jack Gully estimates he’s sold 70,000 chaps and shipped some of them internationally, including to Europe and Australia. One order came in recently from Sweden.

The company also makes leather Bible covers, Jack Gully said, and sells 200 to 300 of them a year at $75 apiece.

Products are all cut and fringed by hand. The company contracts Amish groups in Kentucky and Indiana to work on holsters and much of the tack. Leather comes from all over, though Jack Gully said they’ll occasionally get a local brand among the hides they receive.

A pair of chaps can be made in 45 minutes, but more complex pairs could take hours or days.

“There’s no machine that does this,” Jack Gully said.

The couple opened their leather shop in Newell in 2002 with help from a South Dakota Department of Agriculture business grant, moving back to the state after living in Colorado.

Newell is about 25 miles east of Belle Fourche.

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